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Sugar shock

Shocking amount of sugar found in many hot flavoured drinks
Sugar shock Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

With an estimated 1.7 billion cups of coffee sold each year in the UK from over 18,000 outlets – and one in five of the population (including teenagers) visiting a coffee shop daily – campaign group Action on Sugar has warned of the dangerously high sugar content of certain hot beverages found in many high street coffee shop chains.

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More sugar than Coke

This new research shows that 98% of the 131 hot flavoured drinks analysed would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.

What’s more, 35% of the hot flavoured drinks contain the same amount or more sugars than Coca Cola, which contains a massive 9 teaspoons of sugar per can – equivalent to 7 chocolate biscuits.

5 worst offenders

1. Starbucks
Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti
99.0g sugar per serving (25 teaspoons)

2. Starbucks
Hot Mulled Fruit – Apple with Chai, Dried Apple and Cinnamon Venti
88.0 sugar per serving (22 teaspoons)

3. Costa Coffee
Chai Latte Massimo – Eat In
79.7 sugar per serving (20 teaspoons)

4. Starbucks
Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Grande
76.0 sugar per serving (19 teaspoons)

5. Starbucks
White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream Venti
73.8 sugar per serving (18 teaspoons)

Starbucks and Costa

The worst offender is the Starbucks Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti (extra-large) – a mix of chai and fruit concentrate, topped with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange – which contains 25 teaspoons of sugar. That’s the equivalent of the sugar in five muffins.

Costa Coffee’s Chai Latte (large) has a massive 20 teaspoons of sugar. Interestingly, a Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Tall (medium) has almost half the amount of sugar than the larger sized cup (13 vs 25 tsp).

Maximum RDA

Despite the negative attention that the likes of Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero attracted last year after reports that some of their Christmas drinks were full of fat and sugar, it’s clear that little has been done to rectify the situation and reduce high-sugar drinks from their menus.

Worryingly, from the entire out-of-home hot drinks surveyed, 55% contain the equivalent, or more than, the maximum daily recommended amount of sugars for an adult and teenager (30g – 7tsp/d).

Supersized sugary drinks

Starbucks sells two sizes larger than a typical medium serving size of 340ml, at 454ml & 568ml – adding to the excessive sugar intake in many of its hot flavoured drinks. These serving sizes are much larger than those offered by its competitors.

‘Coffee shop chains must immediately reduce the amount of sugar in these hot drinks, improve their labelling and stop selling the extra-large serving sizes.

‘These hot flavoured drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack. It is not surprising that we have the highest rate of obesity in Europe. Our advice to consumers is to have a plain hot drink or ask for your drink to contain a minimal amount of syrup, preferably sugar free, in the smallest serving size available.’

Kawther Hashem, Researcher for Action on Sugar

Radical action

When it comes to hot drinks that are perceived to be ‘healthy’, a Starbuck’s Chai Tea Latte Venti (extra-large) contains 13 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Eat’s Chai Latte Big and Matcha Latte Big contain 11 teaspoons.

‘This is yet again another example of scandalous amount of sugar added to our food and drink. No wonder we have the highest rates of obesity in Europe.

‘Cameron now has all the evidence to make the UK the first country in the world to stop the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic. To do this Cameron has to be radical and follow every single action that we have set out in our comprehensive plan. Otherwise it will be the final nail in an already bankrupt NHS.’

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar

Click here to view Action on Sugar’s full research results.

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